Common Causes of Shoulder Pain
Athletes who engage in repetitive, overhead motions such as swimming, tennis, pitching, and weightlifting are at risk for shoulder injury. Over time, these activities can lead to inflammation and damage. Pain can also occur as we age and the tendons and ligaments lose some of their elasticity. The most common causes of chronic shoulder pain are:
- Labral tears
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Arthritis (Link to Arthritis page)
- Biceps tendinitis
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The labrum is a soft, fibrous tissue which surrounds the socket of the ball-and-socket joint in the shoulder. It helps to stabilize the joint and serves as an attachment site for several ligaments. The labrum can become injured from repetitive shoulder motion, such as weightlifting, or acute trauma, such as falling onto an outstretched arm or a direct blow to the shoulder.
What are the symptoms of a labral injury?
The symptoms of a labral injury will be partly dependent on the area that is torn or injured. These may include weakness or instability of the shoulder, a popping or clicking sensation during movement, pain when the arm is lifted above the head, or an aching of the shoulder.
What is rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that surround the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, providing stability and rotation to the shoulder. The four muscles which comprise the rotator cuff include:
- Teres minor
Each of these muscles insert at the scapula and connect, via tendon, to the humerus (upper arm bone), creating a cuff around the joint.
Rotator cuff injuries are common and may be caused by repetitive motion or acute trauma to the area.
What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury?
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury may include:
- Pain in the shoulder area
- Painful shoulder movement, particularly when the arm is raised above the shoulder
- Weakness of the shoulder
- Clicking or catching sensation
Also called bicipital tendonitis, bicep tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon that attaches the bicep muscle to the shoulder. It occurs when excessive or repetitive force is applied to the tendon, such as pulling, compression or rubbing. This causes irritation, swelling and pain.
Causes of bicep tendonitis may include:
- Tension or tightness of the shoulder muscles
- Poor body mechanics
- A sudden increase or decrease in exercise or activity
- Repetitive overhead movements of the arms
- Muscle weakness in the rotator cuff or upper back
What are the symptoms of bicep tendonitis?
Symptoms of bicep tendonitis usually include a deep aching feeling in front and on top of the shoulder, which may spread into the bicep. It is usually made worse when the arm is raised above the head. Patients also report a weakness of the arm when the elbow is bent, as well as a catching or slipping sensation near the top of the bicep.
Traditional western medicine will generally treat shoulder pain with medication– typically nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)– physical therapy and possibly surgery. NSAIDs have powerful side effects and can cause secondary issues, such as stomach problems, including bleeding and ulcer, abdominal pain, fluid retention, kidney problems, heart problems, rashes and more. In fact, NSAIDs have recently been found to be more dangerous than previously thought. The FDA is now strengthening their warning that even the over-the-counter strengths can cause heart attacks or strokes. This course of treatment puts patients on a fast track to ever increasing doses of an ever increasing potency anti-inflammatories and pain-killers. These treatments have been shown in countless studies to accelerate arthritis and increase the need for total joint replacements.
When shoulder pain (or any joint pain) is treated with a pain killer or anti-inflammatory drug, the patient may feel some relief, because the symptoms are being suppressed. This is not a solution, however, because it is not fixing the cause of the pain. Inflammation is not the cause of the pain, it is the body’s natural response to injury and the trigger for it to begin the healing process. By suppressing the inflammation, these drugs are preventing the body from to healing itself. Painkillers are simply numbing the pain that results from the injury. If the injury is not treated, it may never properly heal and can even get worse as time goes on. Many of our patients have been on increasing doses of pain medication for years, with no end in sight.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we treat shoulder pain holistically–by learning where the problem originated and working to heal it.
Using prolotherapy, Prolozone®, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy, we accelerate and enhance the body’s natural healing process. We see many patients who have already been through the gamut of traditional medicine and have not found relief. Many people who have had no success with treatments such as surgery, nerve block, epidurals and steroid injections, trigger point injections, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture and more, find relief for the first time after receiving treatment at the Magaziner Center. With no side effects, downtime or surgery, we have gotten patients off of medication, helped them to avoid surgery and gotten them back to their lives.
*The treatment that we will recommend depends on the type and severity of the injury or condition. Call 856-324-6033 or email to schedule a consultation and learn about the options that are right for you.